Golden Gate University Law Review


Owen Tipps


This Comment seeks to apply the existing principles of California's separation of powers jurisprudence to the statutory initiative power, beginning from the premise that this power constitutes a fourth and autonomous branch of government. Part I describes the initiative process and how it differs from the manner in which laws are passed by the legislature. Part II details the theoretical and historical origins of the initiative power. Part III identifies the sources of the initiative power and the conventional legislative process, and it discusses the differing places ascribed to each in the state's constitutional jurisprudence. Part IV delineates the existing limits on the initiative power. Part V identifies the salient principles of the separation of powers in California. Part VI argues that the lack of a legislative check on the initiative power allows the initiative to completely subsume the state's legislative power, which was not the intent when the initiative power was created. Part VII concludes that the state legislature should play a meaningful role in the initiative process in order to avoid a conflict with the separation of powers provision in the state constitution.